Many believed he would not be able to win another championship on a less competitive Yamaha bike when Valentino Rossi made the jump from Honda in 2003.
But having taken chief engineer Jeremy Burgess with him, Rossi was about to look forward to many positive things, securing 4 Championships and 46 GP’s during that time frame. Today, with over 100 wins under his belt, the ‘Doctor’ officially leaves Yamaha and begins his two year deal with Ducati Corse.
The man with four Yamaha YZR-M1’s in his house in Tavullia, one for each championship won, was radiating with joy through his emotions, “This is a very emotional day but I’m very happy as well because I don’t have any regrets and there have been no bad moments or thoughts throughout these seven seasons together with Yamaha.”
“From the beginning it was something great and we worked very well together. Like in life, in sport the results are crucial but just as important is the enjoyment and we had this at Yamaha. We had a great fusion in my team – the Australians, the Italians, the Japanese, the English and many more…a lot of people all together having fun. If in 2004 somebody had told me that I would win four world championships with Yamaha and 46 Grand Prix I would have signed in blood! I am happy. I have to thank first of all Masao Furusawa because we went through some difficult moments but we were able to improve the bike and make it the best machine, then I just have to say a big thank you to everybody who helped me in these seven seasons, and wish everyone good luck.”
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Racing said that the 2003 season was a low point and he, Furusawa and team manager Davide Brivio had asked each other what they had to do to regain Yamaha’s stature, “Finally we said, well, whatever we have to do, without Rossi on the seat it’s not going to work. And that was the fundamental point we said, we need Valentino Rossi. There were some exciting and secretive negotiations with Valentino and it was a very important decision but, with the backing of Masao Furusawa and the President of Yamaha Motor Company, we made it happen. It was ‘do or die’. With a huge commitment from Yamaha, the engineers and everybody in the team we made it work.”
Lin Jarvis will be the only one left to lead the new team of Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies into the 2011 MotoGP World Championship as Masao Furusawa, who not only engineered the M1, but also helped engineer Rossi’s move to Yamaha, has decided to leave the racing department after 18 years. He expresses his gratitute to the turnaround after the low point in 2003 thanks to Valentino’s arrival, and how the team has had many enjoyable moments together, “We’ve had so many exciting and enjoyable moments with him and with the crew that he brought with him, who are great guys. Today we will be saying goodbye to a great number of people including Davide Brivio, Jerry Burgess and the whole crew. We’ve had a super time, it’s been a really excellent team and we will miss them tomorrow, it will be a strange day.”
Furusawa took over the MotoGP program in 2003 “and always it was a terrible, almost like I was in hell! And then I really wanted to make the YZR-M1 a better bike. But more and more I investigated the bike I needed something else, more than the bike. So I have found Valentino Rossi; it cost me. But the first time I did not believe that Valentino will come to Yamaha because I have also a terrible bike. Honda is a fantastic bike.
Then after I invited Valentino to Yamaha and we finally came up from the bottom. And after South Africa in 2004,” when Rossi scored a stunning win over Max Biaggi his first time out, “I felt like I was in heaven, it was a very exciting and memorable year. In 2004 Valentino was the only one who could win on the YZR-M1 so he contributed a lot to developing the bike.
This year not only Valentino but also three other riders were fast so it’s clear that our YZR-M1 is a pretty good bike. This is mainly because of Valentino’s contributions over the years so I really appreciate that and I want to wish him all the best in the future.”